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How Steve Cooper could set up the Nottingham Forest XI as Millwall clash looms

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Nottingham Forest are set to have a new man in the dugout at the weekend as they host Millwall.

The club are closing in on the appointment of Steve Cooper, who is set to be announced as the Reds’ new head coach today.

Forest identified Cooper as their number one target after parting ways with Chris Hughton last week, and it looks as if they have got their man.

Cooper wasn’t at the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday to witness Forest pick up their first win of the season at Huddersfield Town.

But the Welshman’s presence was perhaps felt in the team selection, with the Reds switching to a three-at-the-back system which he deployed on numerous occasions whilst in charge at Swansea.

It’s a change that paid dividends, too. Forest overloaded the wide areas, worked the ball into dangerous areas, and it seemed to suit them a lot more than Hughton’s trusted 4-2-3-1 setup.

Last season, Cooper changed his way of thinking and deployed a fluid 3-4-1-2 system in 38 of Swansea’s 46 Championship games. That switched to a 3-4-3 on a few occasions as well.

It’s easy to see how that might be an ideal fit at the City Ground, especially with wing-backs Djed Spence and Max Lowe arriving during the summer.

Joe Worrall and Scott McKenna played as the right and left-sided centre-backs on Saturday, with both showing composure and confidence to step in and play out from the back down the channels. Tobias Figueiredo, meanwhile, oversaw things from a central perspective.

Forest have Loic Mbe Soh at the club, who is someone who can play in the right-sided centre-half position with ease, whilst Rodrigo Ely is also waiting in the wings for his debut.

Moving into midfield, and the axis of Ryan Yates and James Garner has been a mainstay since the latter re-joined on loan from Manchester United. The Reds bolstered their midfield with the signing of Braian Ojeda in the summer, though, and he should provide real competition once his period of isolation has finished.

In the final third, Brennan Johnson and Joe Lolley both started at the weekend, and the beauty of those two is that they can float in behind the striker and switch flanks.

Johnson started on the left flank on Saturday, but midway through the first half, he swapped wings and his first real involvement saw him power down the line and cross in for Lewis Grabban to head home.

Of course, if Cooper does wish to deploy that 3-4-1-2 system, then Lolley could free roam as the number 10 and Johnson’s pace could see him become an ideal strike partner for Grabban.

But as the saying goes, ‘if it isn’t broken, then don’t fix it’, and this should certainly be the case as Cooper looks to kickstart a new era on Trentside.


Nottingham-based journalist who regularly covers Nottingham Forest home and away.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: How Steve Cooper could set up the Nottingham Forest XI as Millwall clash looms

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